Recently moving away from a long-time freelancing career to a normal, traditional job has led me to some unusual ruminations about the current economy and jobs in general.
For the most part, anyone who wants to have any kind of job must seek out an employer with a brick and mortar establishment. This is especially true for entry-level workers, which describes high schoolers and young adults attending college.
The system that an entry-level worker encounters is one in which both employers and employees lie to each other, exploit one another, and treat each other as less than human.
This process begins even before anybody is even hired. Job postings, online or otherwise, aren’t upfront and honest about what the workplace is going to be like. An office environment might have too many people who gossip about everything. A warehouse might be too hot in the summer. A retail job might have bad management (as such jobs often do). Job postings try to accentuate the positive of any position while completely overlooking the negative aspects of it.
For a bad company with high turnover, it’s in their own best interest to make themselves appear as attractive as possible. No company is going to say in their job posting, “We lost thousands of dollars in training costs this quarter because no one wants to stay working for us.”
Similarly, given the many barriers to employment that a prospective employee faces, a person who wants to get a paycheck has an incentive to lie about their experience or education. Falsifying a resume does not appear to be isolated to one particular industry, earning bracket, or geographical area.
People do it a much greater rate than is generally suspected, whether from embellishment of the facts or just making stuff up that didn’t happen. People who lie on their resume do so because they’d rather have food to eat than starve, and have a home to live in rather than sleep on the streets.
Even before any sort of agreement is made, both employer and employee are lying to one another. Neither of them is telling the full truth. Employees have no obligation to list a short-term job that turned out to be a bad experience. Employers have no obligation to talk about that one manager who always seems to get promoted every time he screws up badly. Today’s functional vocational relationships appear to begin with a foundation of falsehood.
The problems become even worse once an agreement is reached between employer and employee. The employee is welcomed aboard, and is suddenly thrust into a new environment for which they were likely unprepared. The employer has no real idea of what they’re going to get from their new hire, whether they’ll stick around or not, whether they’ll work hard or not, whether they’ll introduce a legal hazard to the company or not.
Hiring new people works by best guesses- hence why so many employers insist on so many things that have nothing to do with whether someone can actually do the job or not. These include:requisite experience, the correct educational degree(s), a driver’s license, and so on. Some of these things are necessary for some jobs (such a license being necessary for a driving job), yet they’re not necessary for others.
There are actually many reasons why an employer might discriminate against an employee. The person who is in charge of hiring and firing has all the power in the relationship thus described. They can, often at a moment’s notice, discharge an employee. While there are some obvious signs that professionals won’t miss, others are not so obvious. It’s difficult to know what biases a boss might have when that boss never intended to be upfront about his company to begin with.
As a result, the footing that many employers find themselves on is just going in for a paycheck. They’re motivated, not by a desire to help the company grow (many companies are already too big), but to pay their bills. If an alternative way of doing this arises, people will commit fraud just to get money.
After all, if a boss is more a person to be avoided rather than someone to whom concerns may be brought, then there’s no reason to for an employee to treat him well or take his needs into consideration.
The negative relationship between the two thus leads to exploitation. One article even outlines how employers are supposed to do that. Some employees will just straight up steal from their place of employment, seeing it as a place meant to serve their personal gain only.
In turn, employers will exploit their employees. Marxists, socialists, and communists have no problem talking about how a capitalist business owner will ruthlessly squeeze as much as can be had out of each employee just to make a profit. Real-world experience suggests that, quite often, they’re not far wrong.
With a near-unlimited supply of employees to be had (everyone needs to work somewhere), an employer can just run his people into the ground, watch them burn out, and then replace them with someone new. As long as the processes the employees perform are simplified- which they must be for robots to be in the conversation of taking jobs away from people- then a boss never need worry about losing an experienced hand or a knowledgeable person.
Many exploited workers are foreign nationals who work in sweatshops. Others are low-wage workers who, due to lack of access to one thing or another, finds themselves stuck in a dead end job.
Others are experienced, dedicated people who haven’t received the promotions or raises they were promised. As long as the boss sees his business as a place meant only for his personal gain, it’s unlikely that he will do anything else.
As a result, it’s easy to see that personal incentives that tend towards acquisition of wealth have a harmful effect on people, companies, and the economy as a whole. The solution ought to be empathizing with the people around you, realizing that both employer and employee have their own set of difficult circumstances. So far, this seems like something that will never happen. Not as long as traditional capitalist incentives remain, at least.
Those who suggest that personal incentives lead to moral behavior have clearly never worked in a hot warehouse, or a stressful call center, or a bad retail job. They’ve never had an employer refuse payment for work or thought about what it all might mean when that happens. The relationship between the two begins with dishonesty, and ends with mutual exploitation. Such a relationship, at best,can only be described as toxic.